Whether you need to reduce your household energy consumption because of strained power grids or you simply want to reduce your utility costs, try these tips for saving energy at home this summer!
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A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were unexpectedly thrown into a “fun” experiment. My husband (who is a power lineman at the company we get our electricity from) called and warned me that there was a perfect storm of issues at the generation plant that supplies their power. On top of two generators already down for maintenance, a third broke, and there wasn’t enough wind to adequately run the wind turbines.
All during some of the hottest days of the summer.
The power company, therefore, asked all its members to conserve as much electricity as possible for a few days. So, that’s what we did! We turned it into a fun game – playing “pioneer” – and used as absolutely little electricity as possible for a few days.
And it worked! Thanks to everyone doing their part, we were able to avoid any serious issues.
That little “experiment,” however, got me thinking. After seeing how well we did for those few days, I figured why not keep it up to save money on our utility bills this summer?
We aren’t conserving electricity at home quite as drastically as we did those few days when it was crucial (we are turning on some lights as needed and using appliances sparingly), but we’re doing pretty darn close!
And since I know many areas of the country are currently struggling to keep up with high energy demands, I thought I would share some of the things we’re doing to reduce our energy use. (Plus, who doesn’t want to save money on their utility bills??!)
Whether you need to because of strained power grids or you simply want to cut your utility costs, try these energy-saving tips this summer.
7 Ways to Save Energy At Home This Summer
While there are several steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption in the long-run (changing out your light bulbs to LEDs, replacing appliances with energy-efficient models, sealing cracks and openings, conducting a home energy audit, etc.), here are 7 simple things you can easily do right now to save energy at home this summer.
1. Raise the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees
While it may not seem like a big deal, even a simple degree or two difference in your temperature can make a big impact on your energy use (and, therefore, your utility bill). Many sources I’ve read cite 78° as the ideal temperature to save money, but that may not be possible/suitable for everyone. Just aim to do what you can!
2. Use fans to keep cool
To help your home feel cooler, create a wind chill effect with floor, window, or ceiling fans. If using ceiling fans, the blades should rotate counterclockwise to push cool air down. It’s also important to remember that fans don’t actually lower the overall temperature in a room – they only make a space feel cooler – so turn them off when you leave a room.
3. Turn off all unnecessary lights
When we were trying to conserve as much energy as possible during those few crucial days, we went without any lights at all during the day. (I told you we played “pioneer”!) In the process, we discovered we don’t need overhead lights nearly as much as we thought we did! Now that the “crisis” has passed, we’re continuing to try to keep the lights off as much as possible.
The nice thing about summer is it’s light from early in the day until late in the evening, providing us with plenty of natural light. To help our efforts in avoiding artificial light, we’re spending several hours outside and (when indoors) primarily staying in the areas of the house that are well-lit by windows.
On the other hand, closing curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the hottest part of the day can keep your house cooler and give your air conditioner a break. During those hours, stay in areas of the house that are lit by indirect natural light, or turn off all other lights that are not in use.
4. Fix cold dinners
One of the best ways to reduce your energy use at home during the summer is to avoid using the stove and oven. This post is full of ideas of cold dinners you can fix during those hot summer months. It also has some great tips for cooking hot food in the most energy-efficient ways.
If you have to use your stove or oven (because who wants to avoid it for three straight months??) try to use it early in the day when it’s cooler so your A/C won’t have to work as hard to keep your house temperature down.
5. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use
Did you know appliances and electronics use energy even when they’re turned off or in stand-by mode? This is referred to as “phantom loads,” and it’s a significant source of energy waste. An easy way, therefore, to save some energy in your home is to unplug all appliances and electronics when not in use.
You might also consider investing in smart power strips. These handy devices, also known as advanced power strips, can be programmed to turn off at assigned times, during periods of inactivity, through remote switches, or from a “master” device.
6. Avoid high energy use during peak hours
It’s impossible to cut out all energy use (unless you really are adept at the pioneer life!), but you can make a big difference by avoiding peak hours as much as possible. These hours will vary from area to area and company to company, but our peak hours are 2pm – 8pm.
Try to schedule your energy-intensive tasks around these hours – wash a load of clothes first thing in the morning (in cold water, to save even more energy!), run the dishwasher right before bed, batch cook/bake on the weekends, etc.
7. Hang clothes on a clothesline
While you probably don’t want to wash your clothes like pioneers – with a tub and washboard – drying them like the olden days is a much simpler matter. Save energy by skipping your electric dryer and hanging your clothes outside to dry. (BONUS: not only will this save you money on your utility bills, it will also prolong the life of your clothes!)
Many of us are trying to be more conscious of the energy we’re using in our homes these days, whether because of overloaded power grids or budget-trimming efforts. By taking the simple steps above, you’ll be able to save energy and save money at home this summer.
SHARE WITH US: What other energy-saving tips would you add to my list? What advice do you have for conserving energy at home during the summer? Share in the comments below!
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